The Mercedes Benz W124 series was the most successful car range in the company's entire history. Today the 124 range is appreciated not only for it's design & engineering excellence but also for it's longevity & continued practicality. A total of 2,737,860 units of the 124 series were manufactured during just over 11 years in production, with 340,593 estates. Of these, only 12,177 were manufactured as E280 models (built from Sept 1992 to February 1996), of which around 25% only were built in RHD. It therefore stands to reason this is a rare spec, especially as a truly rust free low mileage examples from new.
With this many cars produced, being vehicles that last so well, many W124's of all guises are still in use today on roads all over the world. Some have even lived their entire lives as taxis covering huge mileages.
Many are still on used daily on roads around the world today, so virtually all parts remain available from MB and other pattern parts brands. Like it's predecessor the 123, this will be a car that remains well supported by MB for decades yet. Enthusiasm for these cars remains strong worldwide for all the right reasons. The last time we counted there were over 8 Benz communities online with a strong interest in 124's.
We ourselves also choose a W124 as our primary car in Japan (A modified 300D Turbo) and the reason is simple. We understand these cars well and are aware that if properly looked after and maintained, this car can provide an excellent driving experience for ourselves & family for decades yet to come. Choosing a car that won't have to be replaced for 10-20 years is a wise choice and will save money in the end too, but finding such an example is easier said than done. That's often the main challenge for us.
Corrosion resistance is generally excellent, but examples that have been on UK & European roads all of their lives will already have been subject to 2 decades or more of annual winter salt, mud & sand as a layer that tends to build up over the years attaching itself to the underside, arches, exhaust, engine bay, etc. This mixture often finds itself mixed with moisture resulting from use in typical weather in the UK. All combined this makes an effective electrolytic substance which is the cause of rust & other problems associated with corrosion.
As these W124 wagons were generally used as reliable workhorses on a daily basis, the vast majority in Europe & Scandinavia have suffered from rust & abuse after having been used for high mileages often with poor maintenance too.
By contrast, in Japan cars don't corrode in the same way as in UK & Europe. It shocks people when they see how corrosion free a well chosen can from Japan can actually be... Such as this low mileage E280 Wagon, for example!
In Japan salt isn't used on plains areas, only in the higher altitudes (mountains areas, etc). where people rarely go during winter due to difficult driving conditions and so even there, salt is rare. Japan's roads are well drained and protected from debris falling onto them since there are frequent earthquakes and typhoon rains can also occur. This means mud, etc. isn't to be found on roads, unlike the UK and for this reason, this example is completely rust free. For someone wanting the very best example available, it'll be hard to beat this one.
The attention to detail & quality MB put into the final spec. W124 wagon's design should be an inspiration to car designers today. Unfortunately these 124's were so good owners didn't replace them, so MB had to reduce its quality and things begun to go downhill from the next E class models... This E280 wagon has been owned since new by a mature non-smoker who, judging by the car's amazing condition & Tokyo number plate(s), clearly appreciated the virtues of a W124.
Extensive list of equipment includes: factory fitted tinted glass, electrically heated door mirrors with electric adjustment for both sides (w/ usual larger size reduced blind-spot passenger mirror), Cruise Control, electrically adjustable steering column, Dual temp. control A/C, Original option high power speaker system incl. front door woofers & rear door mounted speakers too, Dual SRS Airbags for front seat occupants, Leather steering wheel, Zebrano wood trim, Luggage net (Can be used with all rear seats folded too!), rear tonneau cover, rear luggage net (Can also be used with all rear seats folded flat), split foldable rear seats, original option floor mats, pneumatically controlled central locking, etc.
Note the boot area's first aid kit, warning triangle and spare + tool kit are complete & unused and the carpet in the boot is in excellent unworn condition too. Amazing for a car of this age! Doors shut as effortlessly as the day the car left the factory and sound like a high quality fridge closing - no rattles, just a reassuring solid thud. The boot lid has a soft-locking electro-magnetic mechanism and there's even a leather strap to help close it. Remotely controlled central locking is of course pneumatic.
Design: Many features demonstrate how much thought & attention went into the design of the 124's rear end to add usability. For example, the rear screen wiper operates automatically if the driver selects reverse when the front wipers are in use. There are more interior lights than the saloon too. Effective form & function to the smallest detail.
Having worked on many 124's over the years including our own, we see many design considerations that contribute to the overall integrity of these. Everything from how the bonnet can open completely upright, to the ease of ability to maintain & change parts, there's very little that goes wrong with these and that's testament to the integrity of the original design by MB.
Being the first time we take a very close look at an Estate 124 (we have specialized in E500's for the last 5 years), it's encouraging to see MB spent so much time making sure this was a quality wagon too.
Some owners of various MB's have said the 124 has what may be the best design of all for a Mercedes dashboard. It's elegance and ease of use, clear instrumentation with excellent lighting, quality of switches, cold air vent in the centre (helps avoid drowsiness in warm cabins), simple yet effective cruise control, speakers integrated invisibly by the A-pillars, simple A/C controls & illuminated vents. Visibility is excellent too and despite the headlights being Halogen filament type, they give excellent lighting and include pneumatic (as opposed to electronic!) headlight level adjustment. There are few electronics in these, which is largely why the 124 isn't known to have electrical problems not uncommonly experienced on later models. If an exterior bulb fails, an orange light on the dash will illuminate to warn the driver. This is controlled through a resistance sensor, again - not by un-necessary modern CANBUS data electronics that plague modern MB's not long after they run out of warranty. Mercedes felt the need to use electronics to switch on brake lights rather than a simple 12v circuit with thick wires, as a need to have OBD2 diagnosis, but these things have conspired to make physical wiring a lot thinner, which in turn can break, etc. You'd almost be forgiven for thinking they went this direction on purpose... !
Integrity of design of 124's included much attention to aerodynamics, but also especially with regard to sound insulation. The engine bay is separated from the interior by not just one, but 2 walls of steel. This insulates noise from the interior. Underneath the carpet there is thick foam molded into the contours of the reinforced floor and combined with high quality rubber seals that don't fail and large heavy duty rubber bushes & excellent suspension design all these combine to provide a quiet and relaxing ambience in which to travel. In our own 124 saloon here in Japan, we find ourselves arriving to a destination after a 7 hour drive - refreshed and not tired.
Condition Report: Condition is near 100% perfect, as pictures will show. Interior cloth trim & original zebrano wood veneers are is in excellent shape, steering wheel is unworn, mats are in good condition and even the boot area looks as if it's barely been used.
Bodywork as pictures show is also excellent and absolutely rust free throughout. It's clearly been stored indoors throughout it's life when not in use (registered in Tokyo). Paintwork has been very well looked after since new & is therefore well preserved.
There's a small scratch on the o/s/f door molding and another on the o/s/f wing molding too. (These have been touched in by the previous owner). Although visible if looking for these, they're too minor to warrant doing paintwork but mentioned herewith to give a complete report.
Note wheels are all without corrosion - another testament to the original rust free condition of this car. The self-levelling rear suspension works perfectly.
Underneath there's no rust to be found at all - as is common on cars that have been on Japanese roads all their lives & never seen salt.
Tyres were still legal when this car came to us, but had aged from being on the car a long time and not covered much mileage. So we fitted 4 brand new Goodyear Eco Stage tyres of original size (195/65R15) - See individual pictures of wheels and tyres.
Engine bay has no corrosion at all, anywhere. The engine cover has aged slightly from the protective wax layer originally applied at the factory (& therefore common on these M104 engines).
Looking inside under the cover, we could see camshafts are still like new, which confirms it's had very regular oil changes with synthetic oil throughout it's life in Japan and the engine is barely worn. Signs show this car's been driven slowly and done mostly motorway kms (legal limit is 100 km/h in Japan). Service history confirms this also. We checked and note the engine loom is still soft and pliable, which helps confirm the car hasn't sat in traffic most of it's life. The M104 engine has proven itself as reliable & is known to run without trouble to 500,000km, if properly maintained as it has been to date.
Test Drive: The 2.8 L (3199 cc) 24 valve M104.94X engine produces 193 hp (145 kW) at 5500 rpm and 270 N·m or 199 ft/lbs at 3750 rpm. For this twin cam design, to improve on prior 3 litre models MB developed the variable inlet camshaft system to boost gas flow at low to medium speeds to maximize low end torque, without losing performance at higher engine speeds. The result was impeccable performance which to this day still works perfectly. Weighing only 1,510kg the M104 engine can propel this 7 seater wagon to around 140 mph with sensible or brisk performance as desired, whilst offering sensible economy in normal day to day use. The engine purrs quietly & smoothly at idle, almost making itself imperceptible. Transmission is creamy smooth and takes up well.
Brakes are reassuringly good (4 pot calipers & 294 x 25mm vented discs front / opposing 2 piston rear calipers with 278 x 20mm vented discs rear). Self-levelling rear suspension means this makes a great car to carry luggage in, or tow with and it's known to give excellent ride quality regardless of carrying loads in the back. Despite it's practical abilities, good road holding & handling by way of the excellent 5-link rear suspension that was introduced in the 124 series and continued for several subsequent replacement series.
As to be expected of a properly looked after example, it drives faultlessly & is one of those cars that will break motorway speed limits whilst purring quietly with the usual W124 sound proofing keeping the interior sedate & relaxing, in part due to the excellent sound deadening in the floor, lowest in period of class aerodynamics and the engine bay being separated from the cabin by two walls. Despite this being one of the last W124 wagons produced 22 years ago, this example's integrity means it still drives better & will without doubt last a lot longer than most modern equivalents today.
This example was supplied new in 1994 (March) by Yanase, Japan - official MB Importers and is therefore not a grey import that came from Japan as a used car from Germany.
With the best of these now appreciating, as there are so few left in this condition and with other W124 models such as convertibles & E500 models going up in value, it made sense to us that these too have begun to climb in desirability & value. For our stock we only select top condition with the best spec. possible & being intended for sale in the UK market it has to be RHD. Most W124's of higher spec in Japan are LHD since this has been considered a status symbol since the end of WW2, so finding this particular car took much daily & diligent daily searching.
Knowing 124's well, we've picked out this particular example as what we would want were we looking for the same car personally. When it reaches the UK it'll have our usual full specialist check-over, extensive service and a new MOT so it's ready for daily use for it's new owner.
This unique Mercedes W124 E280TE represents a top opportunity to acquire an appreciating classic of best possible condition & spec. Ready to leave for the UK immediately, this example is priced at £10,495 & includes 12 months comprehensive warranty, new MOT & UK registration.
Contact us for further details on how to reserve or to arrange viewing after arrival.
Don't delay - It took a long time to search for this car and there are people looking out for the best examples - even UK specialists in W124's don't usually offer this spec & condition combined.
Once it's sold we expect it to take us another 2 months at least to find another RHD as good as this. If enquiring from other countries, please note we would be able to source similar spec LHD example to special order.
Newera Imports - Established 1998. Premier source of the best hand picked specialist cars from Japan. As recommended by Import magazines, car clubs and enthusiast owners.